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AstraZeneca To Pay Up To $6 Billion Top Daiichi For New Cancer Drug

AstraZeneca To Pay Up To $6 Billion Top Daiichi For New Cancer Drug
As a part of its strategic program for oncology collaboration for the development of development and marketing of a niche type of targeted cancer treatment, Britain's AstraZeneca has agreed to pay as much as up to $6 billion to Japan's Daiichi Sankyo.
Dorr an experimental drug of Daiichi called DS-1062, which belongs to a promising class of therapies called antibody drug conjugates (ADC), the AstraZeneca, which is listed in London, will be making an upfront payment of $1 billion to the Japanese firm in staggered payments, the British pharma giant said on Monday. The future achievement of regulatory and sales milestones will decide the course of the future payments, the company added.
The British company said that the deal will not have any impact on its 2020 earnings forecast.
In recent years, a strategy to boost and augment its portfolio for drugs and treatment of cancers has been adopted by AstraZeneca, with specific focus on development and acquisition of ADCs, and this segment is being given equal importance even as it strives on to develop  vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
"We see significant potential in this antibody drug conjugate in lung as well as in breast and other cancers that commonly express TROP2," AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said, referring to a protein found on some cancer cell surfaces.
$1 billion or more in annual sales could be generated by the drug according to estimates issued by JP Morgan analysts. AstraZeneca will also be able to keep its previous dividend cover commitments since the upfront commitments of payment by the British company to the Japanese firm are spread over three years, the analysts also added.
DS-1062, which targets the TROP2 protein, belongs to the ADC category of drugs, which link powerful cell toxins to antibodies that cling to cancer cells and spare healthy cells that are damaged during conventional chemotherapy treatments.
Regulatory approval in the United States was won in April by an anti-TROP2 ADC called Trodelvy developed by Immunomedics which is to be used as treatment for an aggressive type of breast cancer. Also working on the development of TROP2-based biotech drugs are two Chinese firms - Kelun Group and Bio-Thera Solutions.
Regulatory endorsements for expanded use in Europe was also recently granted to two of AstraZeneca's on-market therapies, one for lung cancer and another for blood cancer, and these have been a boost to the company’s strategy of augmenting and boosting its cancer treatment portfolio.
A deal for an ADC targeting the HER2 protein has been signed between the British drug maker and Daiichi in 2019 which is valued at almost $7 billion. The drug is now sold as Enhertu.
There have also been negotiations between the two companies over supply of the British company's coronavirus vaccine in Japan.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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